- Posted by Cycling Weekly
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British cyclo-cross champion Wyman took on former World champion Hanka Kupfernagel in Germany and learnt a thing or two...
Its not very often you get in the car, type your destination into the satnav and realise that the race you are going to is just off the same motorway that you live next too. Its pretty exciting stuff until you realise that ‘just off' is actually quite a long way on the same road (over 500km's). Having never seen so many kilometres on TomTom on one road before, I felt it worthy of a photo.
Are we there yet?
So five hours later we arrived to what we thought was a little place in the middle of nowhere until we saw the signs. Bamberg is a really famous German town with incredible history and a million castles (maybe a slight over exaggeration but there's a lot). It also has an American army base with some 10,000 soldiers and best of all its twinned with .....drum roll please .... Bedford, where the family Wyman reside in the UK. Once again another photo required here.
Bedford to Bavaria
I had two races planned for the weekend the first one being a short one-hour drive from our accommodation. The course was slightly reminiscent of an old-school English course with a very long section where they obviously didn't have permission to go into the field so just rode along the top edge, turned right back to the bottom of the field, sharp right, then another 500m back to the rest of the course. I love racing in big squares.
Being very close to Bavaria there were quite a few people in full local dress but the best thing was the Bavarian band providing the podium race entertainment. Unfortunately I don't think they were banking on a British win as they didn't play the national anthem, at least I don't think they did.
The band played on...and on, and on...
The second day was right next to our apartment and a really different course again but still good fun especially as I had a real battle on my hands. Hanka Kupfernagel, if you are unaware of her status is a very good rider. She was 41 national titles, four world titles, been number one at road and cross for a billion years and has been successful right from the first ever women's world champs in 2000. There isn't a single trick used in cyclo-cross that she has not used or knows how to use, most of which she practices on me.
This race I was planning to take my revenge and not give up anything to her as I too have been practicing on Stef. So despite a few attempts during the race we were still together on the final lap with not much difference between us. Having gauged she was very fast on the little descent I knew that's where she was going to try to get away first. I had other plans, until the fourth barge and block at the tape at which point she got her bars ahead and got the line. By the finish she had a few metres and I had to contend withsecond. However, I have learnt from this: maybe Stef is not as hardcore as Hanka.
This weekend I am racing the next round of the world cup in Koksijde, Belgium, and am really looking forward to it as it has to be one of my favourite races - it's just so savage. So till then.
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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Just take a look out of the window and tell me you don't need to go on a training camp. It hasn't stopped raining for nearly a week and dry roads are a distant memory.
If you've never been on a training camp, then you really are missing out on the best possible preparation for the coming season. There are trips for all abilities, not just elite racers, so whatever goals you're setting yourself for 2010, you'll be certain to give yourself a flying start with two weeks in the sun.
After many trips to Majorca, I can recommend Port de Pollenca in the north of the island as a great base for a cycling trip. It gets pretty busy in the summer but earlier in the season there aren't too many German tourists clogging up the roads.
There's a classic 100-mile loop that boasts some 2,000m of climbing. Every rider should sample the delights of Puig Major, the highest point of the island - and I can boast a personal worst of more than nine hours for this mountain epic. It was one hell of a day.
And if you're still lacking inspiration for that perfect Christmas gift, look no further than a subscription to Cycling Weekly magazine. Not only will you save 15 per cent, but our offer includes the DVD of this year's Tour de France. You can find out more about this great offer on our subs page>>
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine
- Posted by Helen Wyman
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National cyclo-cross champion Helen Wyman leaves the frozen fields of Belgium and gets some endurance training in with two weeks in sunny Portugal.
Having started my cyclo-cross season at the beginning of September, which seems like an age ago, I knew I was in for a long season. So I'd always planned a short racing break for an endurance training block in a warmer climate.
Having always done this at home in Belgium previously, I was pretty excited about the possibility of no frozen drink bottles and wearing less than 20 layers for a four hour ride in the kind of conditions you come to love and hate in Belgium. Following the advice of Peter Kay, I visited Teletext and located the cheapest break I could find to a country with a warm climate and Portugal came up top.
We arrived in perfect sunshine and 23-degree temperatures at 10am in the morning to our four-star resort on the cliff top with sea views. I wasn't quite sure if someone was playing a practical joke on us as it's not very often you get such a great hotel for so little money, but five days later and no one has kicked us out yet. This trip actually costs less than the taxi cost me last time I had to get home from the airport without a lift.
I've never been to Portugal before but everyone we had spoken to said it was amazing training with really quiet roads. The only alarming advice we were given was ‘watch out for the dogs'. Anyone who knows me will know my slight fear of dogs, especially when I'm out riding and really don't want to get eaten so I wasn't actually looking forward to this part.
So off we went with a rather shoddy map in hand to investigate the terrain. We saw some wind turbines on a range of hills and decided that was the direction we were going for. Just before we started our first ascent we rode past a small house on the edge of the road with a rather large scary looking dog. I noticed him just as we got level and he was running at full pace towards us. Just as he got to the edge of the gate in true comedy style the chain run out and jerked him backwards a good few yards. It's fair to say Stef actually told me how funny it looked as I was already a good 200 metres up the road still at full sprint pace.
From the top of the hill we had seen a really nice looking lake so on the second day we decided to ride around this on what looked like good roads on the map. Knowing there are quite a lot of gravel roads we thought we would be okay by following the signposts even though it was getting more like mountain bike trails on a road bike. Ten kilometres later we saw the lake and it looked truly beautiful although the descent on the still gravel track didn't look quite as inviting. As we tried to find a real road again I was beginning to wonder if the ‘Hills Have Eyes' was actually filmed in Portugal and maybe I shouldn't have dropped Stef on the last climb until I finally heard a van and headed in that direction.
For anyone who has never been training here, it is amazing. We are staying near Portimao on the south coast of the Algarve. It's been 20-25 degrees everyday since we have been here and the roads are empty and in really good condition. There are hills and valleys to ride in as well as the coast roads, and the coastline is truly beautiful. To top it all off last night we went to a local restaurant called ‘All Beef' (a vegetarian's delight) which has to be the nicest restaurant I have ever eaten in. In true Master Chef style ‘it was luuuurveeely'.
Unfortunately we have to return from this paradise next week and back to northern European weather. I have two races in Germany followed by Koksijde - one of my favourite World Cup venues - back in Belgium a week later. I'm actually very excited as most of my family are coming to watch and I can't wait. Till then.
The Hills Have Eyes: all alone in Portugal
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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It is with very deep regret that we announce the death of Johnny Helms. Our resident cartoonist needs no introduction after entertaining readers for more than six decades and for many he not only personified this magazine but also the essence of the British club cyclist.
Cycling Weekly simply won't be the same without Helms. The man from Cheshire was at the very centre of this publication for more than half of its 118-year history.
His work served to document club life through some six decades. That's approaching three-and-a half thousand cartoons since February 1946, making Helms the longest continually published contributor not only of this magazine but any publication in the UK and probably the world.
One of my first and lasting memories of Cycling when I first read this magazine as a teenager was of a luckless rider being pursued by one of Helms's famous canine creations.
Several years ago when I visited Johnny he drew a cartoon for my daughter. Was it of that dog? Of course it was!
A full obituary appears in news and next week's special issue of Cycling Weekly (November 19) will feature a 12-page Helms tribute.Robert Garbut is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine
- Posted by Emma Silversides
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Emma Silversides is a professional cyclist for the Lotto Belisol team and is based in Belgium. Here she shares her insight into the continental women's scene.
I have deviated from the Belgian theme for some weeks now and feel a little guilty about this; when first asked to write the blog it was specifically supposed to be about ‘the women's scene in Belgium'. So this week I am going to make an attempt to at least begin to get back on track with a sprinkling of Belgian influence.
I have in fact spent the last two weeks in Yorkshire working full time for an American optical company. My daily commute to work consists of 14km on quiet country lanes followed by a further 9km taking me from the south of York, right through the centre, up to the north of the city, and out the other side.
I was completely unprepared for the endless dangers that face me (and indeed all the others who opt to commute by bike) every morning and evening. I have come to the conclusion that I am being kept in the dark about two major things.
Firstly, the whereabouts of the roads that make York a ‘cycle city'; I am told that this is the case by the regional news programs and in the local papers. Seemingly my route to work, despite taking me from one side of York to the other, misses a major part of the city which qualifies it to be bike friendly.
Maybe all the 100 and 200-metre stretches of bike lanes total more than any other city in England thus making York a ‘cycle city'. Or maybe the fact that at the majority of lights a green box suddenly appears for cycles to wait in while the lights change; these are so helpful with their carpets of glass shards and impatient drivers collecting behind ready to race past at the soonest available opportunity.
And the second thing that I am being kept in the dark about? I can only guess it's maybe a party, a free meal or the visit of a celebrity. Whatever it is, it happens every evening and you must be there on time and not a minute late. Oh, and only car drivers are admitted so get your foot on the accelerator and don't lose a minute.
Where is the Belgian influence I hear you asking? Well I guess my ranting comes from growing accustomed to being treated with respect while riding my bike in Belgium; is that such a bad thing? In Belgium the verb to ride (as in a bike) is ‘rijden'. The verb to drive (as in a car) is ‘rijden'. Yes, they are the same, they are conjugated identically, and I think that this is no coincidence. Drivers of cars expect to share the road with ‘drivers' of bikes, everyone abides by exactly the same rules and more often than not the cyclist takes priority. It really is quite simple and neither party complains.
I become so infuriated by the attitudes of drivers everyday and wonder if some of them have ever ridden a bike themselves; probably not. So here lies the route of the problem; it is sheer ignorance of the majority of the population and I must learn to curb my frustration since you cannot blame a person for being ill informed and inexperienced. The car takes priority over the bike and that's how it's simplified here in England. I am returning to Belgium next weekend; I cannot wait. I assure you that the blog will be about Belgium and women's cycling!
- 5 November 09:
- Track World Cup: It just keeps getting better
- 29 October 09:
- Helen Wyman: A Ball of Cheese and Three Litres of Beer
- 28 October 09:
- It's busy on Box Hill
- 24 October 09:
- Brit crossers ready for Koppenberg
- 22 October 09:
- Emma Silversides: cycling in New York